Prep day 29.12.17
Spent the day prepping the vans, sorted the interior out and even treated the van to a vacuum! Went to the local bar in the evening and met some of the locals before returning to an awesome bowl of Gnocchi that Chiara made!
Convoy to the mountains 30.12.17
Started the day with a fried breakfast and soon after Alby(one of Marck and Chiara’s Volkswagen friends) arrived with his T2 pickup and caravan set up!
So off we went – Charlie Brown, the green T2 and Marck and Chiara’s Westy California T3 making a pretty sweet convoy! Started off by taking a few photos at Lago Dell’Olmo (the location of Bugaloo show which we attended in May 2017 http://www.bugaloo.it)
Left Tornaco and headed north towards Lake Maggiore! Parked up next to the lake and wasn’t long before our vehicles started to attract some attention! Got talking to a few bikers – one of them owned a Moto Guzzi and Tris couldn’t stop eyeing it up!
Left beautiful Lake Maggiore with the mountains in sight as we carried on driving the SR33. Turned off onto a smaller road where the fun began… narrow, winding roads as we headed further into the valley. The scenery was awesome as we carried on climbing, snow-covered trees and mountains everywhere we looked! Before we knew it even the sides of the roads were piled up with snow!
Arrived at “Macugnana Campeggio Sporting Center” (www.campeggiomacugnaga.it) to find they’d cleared an area of snow so all three VWs could park together! Set up camp which even involved giving Alby a little push to get his T2 setup in place!
Later on, we went in the Westy up to the village, even had a guided tour as we went past the main square, restaurants and ice rink ( Chiara and Marck have been on holiday in Macugnana before and therefore know the area well!). Booked up a table for later on in the evening and headed back down to the campsite where we were joined by “Zi”(another friend of Marck and Chiaras) who only lived a short distance away. Had a few drinks in the Westy (all 6 of us easily fitted and with the heater on it was perfect!) before leaving to have dinner.
Both of us tried the traditional Polenta which went down well with a couple of glasses of Italian red wine! Completely stuffed (there is now an ongoing joke about Polenta!) we went back to the campsite where we stayed up ’til 2 with G+T’s and beer, maybe not the best idea when we were due to learn how to snowboard the following day!
Snowboarding attempt and New Years Eve 31.12.17
Got ourselves geared up with plenty of layers and waterproof trousers (thanks Alby for lending your bright blue ones to Tris!) before we left the campsite and stopped by at the hire centre to pick up some boots and a snowboard each!
Marck and Alby were already equipped and were eager to get back on the snow with skis and snowboard in hand.
You could tell we’d never experienced anything like this before by the way we held our boards and not forgetting the clumsiness to get on the ski lift! Once on, however, the view was incredible!
Getting off was another story… Will never forget us both clambering off in a hurry to then be knocked over by our very own chair!!!! After walking our way down the slope to a slightly less steep section, Marck got us strapped onto our boards and began to give us a lesson in snowboarding…
We must’ve looked hilarious to all the pro’s flying past us as we slowly made our way down the side of the slope, on our arses and knees mostly, rather than standing up!! We then found out there was actually a beginners slope, which we all agreed would be best rather than us getting in the way of anyone else!
Already bruised and aching, we had bacon and cheese panini in one of the bars at the bottom of the slope along with a glass of wine. Refuelled and determined to at least be able to move standing up on the board by the end of the day, we made our way to the top of the beginner slope and had some more help from Marck! After a couple more hours of falling over, frustration and swearing, by the time it was starting to get dark we’d managed to snowboard partially down the slope – not bad!
Back at the campsite, we had a few pre-drinks and got ready for the evening ahead. Went to the campsite bar/restaurant for a “slap-up” meal where the wine, beer and G&T’s flowed and even had an Italian countdown to the New Year! Carried on the celebrations back in the Westy ’til the early morning!
Another day on the slope 01.01.18
A lazy morning of relaxing in the cafe with a coffee and croissant to recover from the night before was followed by an afternoon on the slope. Despite aching before we even got there, we were determined to get to the bottom of the beginner slope in one go! Marck and Alby went off to grace the larger slopes and Chiara took some photos of us in “action”!
Had a break halfway through again for lunch before we both finally made it down without falling off once! We might not be naturals but we left feeling like we’d achieved something!
Spent the evening at a Pizzeria in the main square of the village (we’ve missed Italian Pizza!) and headed back to the campsite later on where we spent our last evening chatting, laughing and of course drinking a few more G&T’s!
On top of the mountains 02.01.18
Headed up to the slopes once more, dropped off our boots and snowboards, before getting back on the dreaded ski-lift! Zo managed to fall off again before having to get on another one to go further up the mountain this time! Luckily we both managed to get off without hurting ourselves for a change at the second one!
What an awesome view at 2000m … Perfect for a hot chocolate and brandy!
Waited for Alby to come back up the ski-lift after having a go down the slope before we all had lunch together in the restaurant. Tried the traditional Miacci and Macugnaghese pasta(pasta dish of the region including bacon, potatoes, and cheese)… so tasty!
Had to get on the ski-lift once more to make our way back down the mountain( there was no way we were snowboarding down!)… Us two made our way to get back on the seat, however, there wasn’t even a pause which led to me(Zo) being knocked half off as we approached a steep drop which would’ve led to me falling in deep snow…luckily Tris dragged me back on… I owe him!!
After a little bit of drama (!), we made our way safely to the bottom where we then headed back to camp to pack everything away and return back to Tornaco. Spent the rest of the day driving, said goodbye to Alby in Novara and arrived back at Marck and Chiara’s later on.
Unfortunately, Chiara had to return to work the next day, however, Marck had another week off. Plans for building a shower for both our vans was topic of conversation so we planned to be in Tornaco for a little while!